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Get tough on guns, get serious about crime prevention

By Nandy Pacheco
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:36:00 06/09/2008

Filed Under: Crime, Firearms

MANILA, Philippines - The challenge before the President, Congress and the Philippine National Police is not to ?get tough on crime? but to get tough on guns and to get serious about crime prevention.

Guns were made for one purpose only: to kill. A gun is a tragedy waiting to happen. Each violent incident, each senseless killing (like the massacre at the RCBC branch in Cabuyao, Laguna), each tragic story muffles a moral voice that, in this troubled world, needs to be heard.

Those who are pro-gun propose to arm Filipinos and allow them to carry their firearms in public places for protection. If the proposal were to be taken seriously, this would mean that family members, the drivers and even the maids, the officials and employees in the public and private sectors, laborers, and practically every Juan, Pedro and Petra should get guns to protect themselves. Who will subsidize the arms for the poor?

The Gunless Society and Ang Kapatiran Party are against the pro-gun proposal for the following reasons;

The existence of guns facilitates acts of violence. Violence should not be our response to violence. Violence begets more violence. One does not put out fire with fire. One puts out fire with water.

Gun pollution should be abated to save homo sapiens.

The law of the jungle has no place in human society.

Armed Filipinos with a short temper will only aggravate the peace and order situation.

The principle of ?an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth? should not prevail in our social life. Being ?peacemakers,? we are against the use of violence.

Criminals and outlaws can mix freely with the citizens, move freely from one place to another using motor vehicles with tinted glass and do their evil acts with impunity.

?An eye for an eye? or a gun for a gun is not the mark of a civilized society. By advocating the carrying of guns by ordinary citizens, they are absolving the government of its rightful duty.

Guns in this country don?t just kill Filipinos and foreigners, they also kill the country?s international standing and reputation. Each massacre like the recent Cabuyao shootout further undermines the Philippines in the eyes of the international community and acts as a serious disincentive for foreign investors. With every senseless burst of gunfire, the more dangerous and unreliable the Philippines looks. The children of a gun-rattling culture like this one are unlikely to have a secure, profitable, fully-employed future?so that?s another good reason for them to leave.

With guns everywhere, no one is safe. The proposal will surely foster a reign of fear. Norman Cousins, a well-respected American editor, said: ?Peace without freedom is unthinkable, but freedom without peace is impossible.?

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, said: ?The right to bear arms is a mere statutory privilege, not a constitutional right. It is a mere statutory creation. Being a mere statutory creation, the right to bear arms cannot be considered an inalienable right.? For our part, we say, bearing arms is not a right but a wrong.

The first and primary duty of government under the Philippine Constitution is to protect the citizen and maintain peace and order. Peace and order is a precondition for sustainable development. No society can prosper in an atmosphere where public safety is in question.

If maintenance of peace and order were to be the yardstick of a passing mark for an administration, one can be sure that all past administrations up to the present would have gotten a failing mark. If this were a ground for impeachment, all the past presidents would have been impeached including the present one.

Allowing Filipinos to arm themselves and carry their firearms in public places is an admission of failure of the government to fulfill its first duty?to protect its citizens and to maintain peace and order.

?All sectors of the Church must actively work for an end to the production and manufacture of the technology of death and the arms trade as part of its vision of peace"( Art. 23, #23, PCP-II), says the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines.

Let us pray that the gun dealers and gun manufacturers find other better business that will help improve the quality of life and give equally good if not better income for them.

We offer the following proposals for immediate action and implementation:

General Principles: You cannot control crime without controlling the criminal, and you cannot control the criminal without controlling the gun. As a crime prevention and common sense measure, the point of gun control legislation is to make the harmless act of carrying a gun in public a criminal offense before such act turns into a violent one like murder, homicide, robbery, kidnapping, etc. It seeks to stop gun violence before it begins. Gun control is aimed at making it easier to identify criminals, especially gun-carrying ?plainclothesmen,? so that it will be easier for law enforcers in uniform and on duty to disarm them and for peaceful unarmed citizens to cooperate with the authorities.

Policies: It?s time to turn the tide against the gun culture. Promote life, peace, active nonviolence and progressive disarmament. Be hard on guns, get serious about crime prevention, rethink our failing relationships and flawed institutions. We need both deterrence and crime prevention measures. An ounce of prevention is more than a pound of cure. It should be mandatory to report to media whether the gun involved in the crime is licensed or not and in whose name it is registered. One standard question that should be asked of the suspect: ?Where did you get the gun you used??

Nandy Pacheco is founder of the Gunless Society and Ang Kapatiran party.

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